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Level’s Alastair Campbell: “Consistency and decision making” is critical for outdated FA betting sanctions 

According to the report ‘Evening the Odds’, sanctions guidance for FA betting cases are out of date and unhelpful, with punishment for breaching the rules seeming uncertain.Alastair Campbell, Sports Partner at Level, spoke on the FA guidelines for sanctions in betting, divulging his research into participants accused of a betting offence. With research on over 100 cases and a vast knowledge across every case on the FA website, Campbell explained that it is consistency and decision making that are critical for the FA to form its disciplinary procedures. 

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In total, 35% of the most common betting cases involved betting from a player or other participant on their own team to lose. This resulted in between a one month to over three year ban; however, 42% of betting cases failed to result in any ban whatsoever. 

Campbell said: “Rapid shifts in gambling habits to online and mobile since 2014 have undoubtedly contributed to the year-on-year increase in betting cases; yet the FA’s sanctions guidance has not adapted to deal with the changing nature of gambling, and participants facing betting charges are still faced with significant uncertainty.

“The high number of serious cases is troubling, but the FA should also be concerned that less serious cases may be escaping detection – that said, it is to be expected that the most serious cases are given the highest priority.”

A report found that participants and players, especially in lower league games, claimed to be ignorant of the sports betting regulations. Ignorance is, however, not deemed a mitigating circumstance, especially to the higher echelons of the game.

One situation where an ignorance plee was accepted was due to a language barrier only. Aside from this, pleading under the act of ignorance is not permitted. 

In terms of mitigating effects, more than a quarter of betting decisions were cited as down to addiction, totalling this mitigating factor at 26%. In further cases, addiction was mentioned but not immediately treated as a mitigating factor. The report suggests that consistency in the field of addiction needs to be actioned when considering it as mitigation.

Campbell commented: “With the role of betting companies in football – and advertising in particular – coming under more scrutiny than ever before, our findings on the prevalence of addiction are likely to add fuel to the fire of those calling for stricter regulation of the relationship between gambling and professional football.”

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